Doorperson of the month: Nicholas Watts, Marina City

By Mat Cohen, April 1, 2020


Nicholas Watts is a firm believer in human decency. He displays it everyday at Marina City, and that’s one of the reasons he’s the New Eastside Doorperson of the Month.

Nicholas Watts

Despite being new to Marina City, he’s been in the security industry for nearly 25 years and in the residential sector for 15.

“When I found out residential security was a thing, I knew I really enjoy being around people,” he said. “So I’ve been doing it for the last 15 years or so.”

Members of the community have made a strong impact on Watts during the year he has spent working at the towers. Among them is a woman named Barb who helped make the transition into the new role easier for him.

“I’m a firm believer that human decency still exists,” he said. “We walk around, and everyone is attached to their devices, and there’s an overall lack of common courtesy, a lack of human decency.

“So to meet someone that would rather have a human interaction, you don’t get that too often anymore. She was always very friendly, she made the adjustment very easy.”

Watts tries to spread the same kindness that Barb showed him into the building everyday. When Barb’s cat died, he helped make arrangements to give her one less thing to worry about, which may seem like a small task, but for Nick, it was easy to do.

“More people should do things like that,” he said. “If you’re able to get someone else through their day, you don’t know what they’re going through. It could mean nothing to you, but mean the world to someone else.

“It doesn’t cost anything to just be a decent person.”

Watts lives with his wife and two daughters, Kendall and Kylie, who are 17 and 11 years old. He commutes from Dunning each day, and loves the historic community he’s able to serve.

“As a Chicagoan, it’s a part of Chicago, who wouldn’t want to work here,” he said. “This is who I am and this is what I do. I believe in human decency and I believe more people should.”

Doorperson of the Month: Zack Gardner, Park Millennium

by Mat Cohen

Despite his Texas roots, Zack Gardner has been able to work through the shock of the Chicago winter to become New Eastside News Doorperson of the Month.

Gardner has been working at Park Millennium for nearly six years, but he still misses the Texas heat.

“I still haven’t gotten acclimated with the weather,” he said. “I’ve never spent so much money on a jacket.”

Gardner was born in Little Rock, Ark., raised in Texas and went to school in Dallas. After graduating, he moved to Chicago in 2013 with his twin brother, who works at the Signature Room. The cold weather was not ideal, but having a warm heart and interacting with residents has helped.

“I love to talk to people,” he said. “I’m a people person, I love to interact with kids, I like learning new things about people and just having a conversation.

“I guess you could call me a social butterfly.”

Gardner enjoys playing and coaching basketball when he’s not working. He has a Chihuahua-Terrier mix who occasionally accompanies him at the building.

“There’s definitely strong relationships with the residents, as well as kids and animals,” he said. “I probably know more animals’ and kids’ names, versus their parents’ names.”

Zack’s cousin referred him to the building, and he views the residents as family.

“We’re pretty much living in someone’s home, to be honest. That’s why I don’t really look at it as a job,” he said. “When I’m training people I tell them, ‘It’s a job for you, but not for them. You’re pretty much in somebody’s basement and if you stay long enough you’ll turn into family.’”

Zack said the only bad part of his job is when residents move away.

“I enjoy working with the people here,” he said. “This is a very nice, diverse environment, and everyone’s in good spirits, so that helps the job a lot.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s nice to establish those relationships.”

Alonzo: Doorperson of the Month

by Mat Cohen

For Alonzo, there’s nothing better than a great football game, jazz music and his family, which includes the people at 400 E. Randolph.

“Everyone is special at 400 E. Randolph,” he said. “I make sure they feel special. I try to make the family at 400 feel as I would want to feel.

“I like my jazz music, love my sports and family is automatic.”

Alonzo is a versatile employee for the building. He spends time in the package room, working in receiving, greeting people at the front desk and checking guests in at the workout space.

“Multitasking at 400 E. Randolph makes the job very fulfilling,” he said. “You can tell that you can make a difference with someone.”

Making a difference among people’s lives has been ingrained in Alonzo’s heart from his childhood.

“Helping people has to be from your heart and if it’s not genuine, they’ll know,” he said. “I get it from my parents, my mother and father.

“They said if you live good through your heart, your blessings are unlimited.”

Alonzo has given away coats and shoes to the homeless on lower Wacker Drive outside his post in the receiving room. He’s warm and welcoming to every resident and believes the world would be a better place if everyone took a little time to give.

“It could be a conversation, you could even sit in silence with someone,” he said. “Look around, we all have something to give.”

“Me giving comes from my heart, it’s not an act. Helping people should be from your heart.”

Before getting the job at 400, he did some manifesting to create his reality.

“The job found me,” he said. “I passed here thousands of times and I just always said that it would be a nice place to work, and it just worked out. It was meant to be.”

Alonzo has given a lot to 400 E. Randolph, but isn’t too keen on recognition, except for when he won track medals in Grammar School.

“I’m just a low-key guy, I’m glad about it, but it’s just shocking,” he said about being selected as Doorperson of the Month.

There’s no doubt he deserves the recognition, but he wants to make it clear the building deserves recognition of its own.

“I don’t know if they made it a landmark, but 400 is iconic,” he said. “Because it was built before a lot of these other buildings. That sounds like I’m bragging about 400, but we set a high standard to go above and beyond.”

Doorperson of the Month: Marek Sit

by Mat Cohen

It’s been a long journey for Doorperson  Marek Sit to get to 400 E. Randolph. Actually, about 4,500 miles. 

Sit was born in Poland. In 1981, at 24 years old, he followed his mother to New York City, and then to Chicago.

“First I wanted to go to Canada, but I decided to go to Chicago instead and find a job,” Sit said. “I caught another plane from NYC and came to Chicago and I was in such a shock.”

Since starting a new life in the U.S., Sit has worked hard and earned respect, which is why he’s been named Doorperson of the Month.

Sit worked at a condo building on the Northside for 14 years before interviewing for the building in the New Eastside. “

They closed the doorman position (at my old building), and this was so devastating for me and my coworkers,” he said. “But (400 E. Randolph) called me  for the interview and that’s how every- thing started. They fortunately hired me  and fortunately I have had the job for this long.  the building is very busy, it’s very nice.”

After nearly 23 years at the job, Sit is still  putting in extra hours to help in the pack- age room with the Christmas rush. 

He’s seen a lot of change as the community and residents are getting younger. 

“From the basement to the roof, everything is brand new,” he said. “But I’m glad  I’ve been here to witness the change.”

He’s seen a lot of older residents move on or decide to live in nursing homes.

“It’s not easy but this is the life,” he said. “Life goes on and you have to witness this, even though I don’t like it when they go.”

When he’s not working, he spends time with family, fishing with his brother in Michigan and relaxing on their boat. 

Getting to know people is also important to Sit, who loves to wish kids a  great day as they’re leaving for school in  the morning.

“There are sometimes residents, or taxi drivers, and they know me from my old building. It’s been a long time and they recognize me and I recognize them.” he said. 

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email with their name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.  

Doorperson of the Month Fred Crocker, The Shoreham at Lakeshore East

by Mat Cohen

The most genuine, enthusiastic fist bump in New Eastside has been found.

 At The Shoreham at Lakeshore East is Fred Crocker, behind the desk with a smile, dishing out fist bumps to kids setting off for school. 

“Once you get to know people, it’s al- most like a family,” he said. “That’s how this  building came together, we’re all so close.” 

Crocker has been named the New East- side News Doorperson of the Month, but  not just because of his fist bumps.

His love for people, kids and dogs has been on display since the building  opened 15 years ago. Crocker learns every resident’s name so as they walk by he  can properly wish them a good day.

“Genuinely, you have to love people,”  he said. “And to get that in return, is a really good feeling.”

Crocker strives to have a positive impact on everyone’s day. If people have a lot to carry he holds the door, if kids are running behind for school he hurries them along and if dogs need a treat he’ll happily hand one over.

“It could be a bad day or whatever, and I can turn it around because they mirror how I’m acting. That makes you feel good when they return the love,” he said. “That’s my favorite part of what I do.” Crocker grew up in Englewood, and lives in Justice.

 For 32 years he has worked as a doorperson, and for 32 years he’s had the first shift  of the day. He prefers the early hours so he has time for his other loves, like taking care of his mother or playing basketball.

“I may be getting older, but these old  bones can still move,” he said. Crocker, with his laid-back attitude, is perfectly content. He’s a loyal Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan who has a clear vision of where he’ll be once retired.

“When I retire I will probably move to a southern state,” he said. “It seems like the people down there are much happier and welcoming. I’m such a laid-back person I can see myself sitting on the farm somewhere just chilling with a straw hat.

“You get my age, you see things a little different.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email  

A GEM of a job: Employee of the month Kobe Stanton

By Doug Rapp

Kobe Stanton has a long commute, but for her, it’s worth it.

“I love what I do,” Stanton said of her job as a security resource officer at GEMS World Academy on East South Water St. “I can say I wake up and look forward to seeing these kids.”

Stanton heads into New Eastside from suburban Markham to keep the students safe at GEMS, a preschool-through-12 school that emphasizes a global STEM curriculum and multilingual learning.

Working security is nothing new to Stanton, 31. After attending Olive Harvey College, she was a guard at Chicago Housing Authority’s central office and the Art Institute before she started at GEMS. She’s been with the school since they opened in 2014.

“I’ve seen a lot of kids grow up,” she said. “I’ve had five years of interacting with the families and getting to know them personally.”

Stanton said she loves the international diversity of the 400-plus student body.

 “I like the environment of happiness and positivity,” she said.   

Stanton, a Country Club Hills native who grew up with nine siblings, said her duties include monitoring student pick-up and drop-off, recess, helping with the front desk and phones while “being an extra eye for teachers” when needed. 

“My favorite times are when I get to interact with the families,” she said. 

Stanton said GEMS’ security is tight but “not a lot of crazy things are going on.” She said she and the security staff of four can assist in minor medical incidents or accidents, run fire and lockdown drills, provide security camera footage if needed and patrol the 322,000-square-foot campus.

It’s not all work, though. Stanton said one of her favorite events is the annual fundraising gala. She said it’s fun to raise a toast with the families in formal wear instead of her usual security uniform. 

Looking back on her five years at GEMS, Stanton said she appreciates her rewarding work.

“I am actually thankful for everybody that walks into this building because everyone that walks in here has a positive attitude,” Stanton said. “There are a lot of people who have bigger problems than what you think you have.”

Doorperson of the month, Jesus Rosario, The Chandler Condominiums, 450 E. Waterside Dr.

By Jesse Wright

Jesus Rosario, doorperson at the Chandler Condominiums, is newer to the building than some of the other door staff.

“I’ve been at this building for a year and a half,” he said.

But, Rosario said he loves the building and the neighborhood. Before the Chandler, he was a bike delivery guy for Jimmy John’s on Mag Mile. Delivering a sandwich is how he got his first look inside the Chandler.

“I figured being on this side of things would be more for me,” Rosario said. “It beats being on a bike for hours. Honestly it’s been a great year and a half so far. I feel comfortable.”

Rosario, 22, lives with his mother and two younger siblings. An older brother, a Marine, is stationed in Washington, D.C.

“He’s done events where he’s in the same building as the president, which is amazing,” Rosario said.

Rosario’s duties may not involve the president, but he said he enjoys the job.

“I’ve been working since I was 16,” he said. “First, I was a dish washer, then a delivery guy and now a doorperson. I figured I’d move up.”

Rosario said he’s enjoyed getting to know the Chandler’s 34 floors. The residents, he added, inspire him.

“It makes a good impression on me,” he said. “It’s inspired me to do something with myself and maybe live in a place like this one day.”

Rosario handles the usual stuff—packages, guests, resident needs—with a smile.

“A lot of what I end up doing is making sure everyone who walks through the door feels welcome,” he said. “I not only represent myself, but I represent the building and its residents.”

When he’s not at work, Rosario said he enjoys playing basketball, watching films or driving.

“I love driving,” he said. “I recently got a newer car and I look for any excuse to drive that.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

New Eastside Doorperson of the Month: Jerome Bell, Park Shore

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

For the last 21 years Jerome Bell has worked at the Park Shore as doorman and he said he has no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.

“It’s a great building,” Bell said. “The residents are great, it’s a classy building, it’s luxury and it’s an all-around great place to work.”

Bell said the building helps inspire him to deliver great service.

“First of all for me, I try to offer a type of service I would want if I lived in a building like this,” he said. “I try to stay professional at all times. You just have to offer good service. Service is key.”

Bell said he started at the building shortly after it became a fully condominium building. When he arrived, he said the residents were mostly on the older side, though these days he said there’s a mix of older and younger residents.

Park Shore is off North Harbor Drive, a quiet street without through traffic, so most of Bell’s day is spent looking after residents and not policing the area.

“It’s pretty quiet,” Bell admits. “It’s not as busy as it would it if it were out on a main street. It’s kind of hidden.”

Not that Bell is complaining. The building boasts some of the best Lake Michigan views in New Eastside, and most of the building’s 480 or so units are filled, meaning Bell and the other doorpeople stay busy looking after residents and their guests.

“You have to multi task” Bell said. “With it being busy, if I’m at the desk, you gotta watch the doors and answer the phones you gotta hand out keys and you gotta know who belongs here and who doesn’t belong here. So you gotta be very observant.”

While the street may be quiet, Bell said the building does get the occasional foot traffic from visitors who are looking to get to the Navy Pier.

“You gotta let people know its private property and there are no access points to Navy Pier,” he said. “You gotta tell them how to get there from Harbor Drive.”

When not at work, Bell said he enjoys spending time with his family, riding his bicycle and watching television. He loves sports—go Cubs, he says—and he has high hopes for this year’s Bears outfit.

“I think the Bears could make the Superbowl this year, if we could stay healthy,” Bell said. “We just gotta get Mitch (Trubisky) a little more accurate and if we can do that, We’ll be OK. This team has more weapons than the U.S. military.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

New Eastside Doorperson of the Month: Wade King at Aqua

(Published July 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Wade King is approaching his 10th year as doorperson at the Aqua. It’s his first job as a doorperson and he said he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

“They treat me right and they pay me good,” he said with a laugh.

King said a friend referred him to the position, and he hasn’t looked back.

“The variety of people has always been a draw,” he said. “You meet all different type of people from all walks of life and from everywhere and different ages. This building is a melting pot.”

Besides the residents of the 900-unit building, King said he’ll have to help lost Radisson guests who mistakenly wander into the residents’ entrance and even the odd sight-seer who, armed with an architecture map, wander into the Jeanne Gang-designed building seeking information.

“It’s one of the more popular buildings because of the design. People go on an architecture tour and have questions and you have to answer their questions,” he said. “We have to field all types of questions. We pretty much have to know it all. We’re like a human kiosk.”

However, King is quick to point out The Aqua staffs two people at the door, and he said he would not be able to deliver the same kind of service without a partner.

Sean Hayes, the resident who nominated King, said the doorperson should train doorpeople all over the city—and then the nation.

“Wade King and (prior doorperson of the month) Josh Harris should start their own consulting company as expert door staff training and management consultants to be hired by property management companies, like Magellan, throughout Chicago and then later expand nationally,” Hayes wrote in an email.

But for King, Chicago is home.

“It’s the best city in the world. I’ll visit anywhere, but this is home,” he said. “It’s got everything. It’s got a lakefront, you got buildings, you got suburbs, good food, good music and we’ve got all the seasons.”

When he’s not working, King spends his free time drawing and bowling. King said he grew up bowling with his parents, and he’s still in a league with his mom. King said his personal best is bowling a 275, but don’t ask him how he did it.

“I wish I knew because I would have gotten the 300 if I knew what it was,” King said. “It was one of those days that everything you throw comes up and it’s like, alright. But I’m still trying to get that 300, and when I get to 300 I’ll probably quit. Mission accomplished.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Doorperson of the month: Nick Damus

(Published June 30, 2019)

Nick Damus, a doorperson at 340 On the Park, has lived several lifetimes. Born in Haiti, he emigrated with his parents to New York City as a boy. When he grew up, he joined the Air Force, studied electronics and lived overseas in Italy.

He learned to speak Italian, adding that to his knowledge of French Kreyol, French, English and Spanish. After the Air Force, he became a French and Spanish teacher in New York City’s public school system.

“Life in New York became a bit challenging because a teaching job in the public school system is tough, so I wanted to do something else,” Damus explained.

He moved to Georgia, where he had relatives, and went back to school for network engineering. After graduation, he moved to Chicago where relatives in the city offered to help him find a job.

“I came here looking for a job as a computer network engineer,” Damus said. “That’s when the economy tanked and all the jobs went overseas. That’s how I ended up working as a security officer.”

That was at the now-defunct Chicago Place mall on the Mag Mile. But he didn’t stay there long. In 2007, 340 On the Park opened and needed door staff. Damus said a friend recommended him and he was hired. He started working there on the day the building opened. Finally, Damus found a job he loved.

“I’m the sole survivor,” he said, “the only one who’s been here [from the beginning] of all the staff.”

Damus said he loves the job because of the speed. It’s a busy building with 344 apartments. People are constantly coming and going through the lobby.

“You’re not [just] a doorman here,” he said. “You’re basically involved with everything. It’s very hectic. It’s very highly paced. It makes the day go by really quick. You’re on your toes a lot and you’re multitasking. And that’s what I like about it and why I’ve been here so long.”

While explaining this, a woman asked for help jumpstarting a car in the parking garage.

“Your communication skills and your customer service skills have to be up to par here,” he said after he helped the tenant. “It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.”

When he’s not helping residents and manning the door, Damus said he enjoys his hobbies.

“I read a lot and I watch movies,” he said. “I play guitar, a little bit of rock guitar. … It’s something that I’d like to be good at.”

But don’t look for Damus at open mics anytime soon.

“No, I’m not at that level at all,” he said.

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

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